Arcade Games and Culture: How Arcades Adapt


games and culture

Video games and culture have been interconnected since the first video games were launched. In the decades since, video and arcade games have adapted and grown with improvements in technology, changes in gaming culture, and the arcades themselves. The classics are still fun to play, and the modern games can draw in new gamers. Wintrust Sports Complex boasts a modern redemption arcade that blends the nostalgia of a classic arcade with the conveniences of modern technology. 

gaming culture

Modernizing Classic Arcade Games 

An arcade-style machine is no longer necessary to play classic arcade games. A gaming console is not even needed when many games can be played on a computer or even on a mobile device. The experience is different, but no matter how the games are played, they are still part of the intersection of games and culture.

Newer technology means improved graphics; even in the last 10-15 years, the difference is drastic. There are mobile app versions of dozens of classic games, from Pac-Man to Sonic and more. There are web-based versions or downloadable computer games. 

However, there is a fine line between technology improvements in classic arcade games and keeping the nostalgic feel. Just like there is something about watching a classic Disney movie on a VHS tape that feels different than streaming on Disney +, there is something about playing Sonic the Hedgehog with 1980s-level graphics that feels different from playing on an iPhone. While gaming culture may argue that heading down to a local arcade with an original machine feels more authentic than an updated computer or phone game, there is the convenience of being able to play your favorite game anytime, anywhere. 

Gaming Culture in the 21st Century 

Games and culture have adapted throughout the 21st century. While the concepts of community building and even gaming conventions are not new to gaming culture, they have greatly expanded with the use of technology. 

Games and Culture on the Internet 

The growth of the internet and social media allows gamers to connect like never before. Players can easily share scores and stats on their own social media or on forums and in groups. The internet makes it much easier to find and connect with fellow gamers than ever before. Classic arcade games are now more accessible with online playing or with game machines located in various locations. 

Cosplay and Conventions 

Games and culture have included cosplay and conventions for decades, but as gamer culture expands, so do the conventions. Many new video game conventions are launched nearly every year, and the conventions that have been running for decades keep getting bigger. 


Games and culture go hand in hand. Since the 1990s, video games and popular arcade games have been the inspiration for feature-length movies, starting with Super Mario Bros in 1993 and then the box-office hits of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) – and the sequel. 

popular arcade games

Re-Introducing Arcade Style Games

Classic arcade games from the height of the arcade era – the 70s and 80s – were generally simple, especially compared to today’s video games. The gameplay was easy to follow, required minimal controls, and featured simple graphics. There is a resurgence of modern games inspired by those popular arcade games, or at least the simplicity of them. Games such as Subway Surfer, Angry Birds, and Fruit Ninja are incredibly popular as mobile games and even as arcade machines. These games are easy to follow and understand, require simple controls or swipes, and are addictively entertaining. 

Gaming Technology 

Improvements in graphics and visuals and the addition of mobile games are not the only improvements in gaming technology. Arcades and game manufacturers are continually incorporating other technologies. 

Interactive and Motion-Sensing Games

Motion-sensing gaming technology has come a long way since the WII launched in 2006 and cemented its place in games and culture. Modern arcade games incorporate motion-sensing technology to create interactive and physical experiences.

Arcades Adapting 

In order to survive, arcades need to adapt to the changes in gaming culture. Arcades need to blend the nostalgic feel of a classic arcade with modern technology and modern games. Many arcades use cards rather than quarters or coins, making gameplay and reloading more convenient for players. The arcade at Wintrust Sports Complex has rechargeable play cards, with a minimum of just $10 to start. 

Some games and arcades focus on mobile integration. Games can allow players to use their smartphones to interact with games or even control certain aspects of the gaming experience. Arcades, especially large chain arcades, may have a mobile app guests can use. 

Arcades can offer online multiplayer games that allow players to connect and compete with others globally. This creates a more social and competitive gaming environment.

One key way arcades can adapt is to expand their guest options. Arcades are rarely just stand-alone arcades. They are part of entertainment complexes attached to bowling alleys, laser tag, esports areas, and restaurants. Arcade bars are a newer trend for adults to enjoy. 

games and culture

Wintrust Sports Complex 

The 4,000-square-foot arcade at Wintrust Sports Complex features classic arcade games and popular arcade games. Our play cards make it easy to get started. Plus, our facility has a lot more to offer. There are also basketball, volleyball, and pickleball courts, and, of course, the on-site restaurant, The Station Grille. 

Wintrust Sports Complex is the spot for games and culture in the Chicago area. Come in for some fun, plan a birthday party, or host another event!